The Wilpena Pound Resort in South Australia’s Ikara Flinders Ranges went from zero to 60% Aboriginal employment over the past five years, creating a substantial investment in the region that promotes job security, prosperity and opportunity.
The Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association (ATLA) bought the resort in 2012 through a joint venture with Indigenous Business Australia (IBA). The goal was to create opportunities for local Adnyamathanha employment and business development in the tourism industry, focusing on celebrating and sharing local culture.
Vince Coulthard is a Wilpena Pound Resort Board Member with a deep passion for his traditional lands. His dream was to ensure Aboriginal people had a strong presence at the resort and visitors felt welcome to come on country.
‘We partnered with IBA to acquire this resort for long term sustainability for the Adnyamathanha Yura people and to be the main keeper of this lore place,’ Vince said. ‘Buying the resort is something for the future generations and it’s about building some sort of identity within our region.’
IBA worked with the resort’s management and Traditional Owners to create an Indigenous Engagement Strategy. The plan focussed on developing career pathways and sustainable opportunities for local Adnyamathanha people. This resulted in increased employment and the development of cultural tours, creating a greater sense of ownership and a more authentic Aboriginal experience for guests.
‘Wilpena Pound Resort is a great example of what IBA can do when combining forces with the Traditional Owners of the land. The wealth of knowledge in existence by the Adnyamathanha people can now be shared with guests at the resort, expanding both the tourism experience and overall integrity of all involved,’ said IBA CEO Rajiv Viswanathan.
Vince added, ‘Like our kids say now “This is our place”. And they stand proud and that’s just so awesome, they take ownership.’
‘You can use the country itself and the cultural values to generate income. It’s about recognising out there how best to do that without damaging your cultural values.’
The investment is creating wealth and an ongoing income stream for ATLA, with IBA’s strategy to sell down the equity in the resort to ATLA over time, thereby further increasing Aboriginal ownership of the resort.
‘IBA has given us the opportunity to not only set up a business here but also to put in place a good foundation to keeping our culture strong. They’re a great partner to have.’
IBA teamed up with Indigenous videographer Alison Page to curate a video on the project. Watch the video now.